The Maharashtra government on Friday announced that schools across the state will resume from October 4 and places of worship will reopen from October 7.

Schools will be allowed to start physical classes for standards 5 to 12 in rural areas and the remaining places in the state can open the institutes for Classes 8 to 12.

Government and private schools across all educational boards will be allowed to reopen as per the new rules, The Indian Express reported. Residential, kindergarten and pre-schools will not be allowed to reopen.

From August 17, the state government had allowed schools to resume in areas where the prevalance of Covid-19 was low. But the government had not specified a threshold below which coronavirus cases would be considered as “low”.

However, it empowered municipal authorities and district collectors to take a decision for urban and rural areas.

From October 4, schools in all parts of the state will be allowed to reopen.

The state’s School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said that there will be no compulsion on students to attend physical classes, PTI reported. “Consent of parents will be necessary if they want to attend,” she said.

The state government has issued standard operating procedures for the reopening of schools. The guidelines stipulate that all teaching and non-teaching staff should undergo an RT-PCR test for the coronavirus at least 48 hours before the reopening of schools.

The SOPs also note that local administrations should ensure that schools have thermometers, sanitisers, soap and water.

All teaching and non-teaching staff have to be vaccinated to attend schools.

Further, the Maharashtra government has asked schools to set up health clinics in their premises if possible. It also directed that arrangements should be made for checking the temperature of students on a regular basis.

The guidelines said that teachers should encourage students to walk to schools. If the students use school buses, only one student should be allowed on each seat.

The state government has further stated in the current situation, no sports activities should be allowed.

“Once the coronavirus-related situation becomes normal, some sports activities can be started,” the guidelines state.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister’s Office announced on Twitter that all places of worship will reopen from the first day of the festival of Navratri on October 7 and that Covid-19 related protocols will need to be observed.

On September 6, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had said that festivals can be celebrated later, and the health of citizens should be prioritised.

In August, the Maharashtra government had banned all public gatherings, including the formation of human pyramids, during the traditional Dahi handi event held on Janmashtami festival. Opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party, in the state had opposed the decision and called it “anti-Hindu”.